Before I go into all about sea turtles
Let’s briefly answer the question – How Long Do Baby Sea Turtles Stay With Their Mother?
In short – They actually don’t
Once a mother sea turtles eggs are hatched, these baby sea turtles are pretty much left to their own and have to rely on their instincts
Sea turtles are some of the most intriguing creatures in the ocean.
They’re also one of the toughest—they can live for decades, and they have to be able to swim through waves that would wash away a human if it were just a few feet higher.
The largest species of turtle is Chelonia mydas, which lives along Australia’s east coast.
The smallest is Lepidochelys olivacea, found only near Japan.
Sea turtles belong to the order Testudines (turtles), which includes tortoises and terrapins as well.
There are more than 60 different kinds of sea turtles alive today across all oceans around the world.
Though we don’t know much about the early life stages of these animals, we’re pretty sure babies hatch from eggs into little flippers or “patellae.”
Once out of the eggshell, the patella starts swimming toward shore while attached by a thread-like umbilical cord called an amniotic band.
After several days, this becomes the shell, where the baby stays protected until it grows legs and leaves its home at the surface.
As adults, female sea turtles lay thousands of eggs once every two years.
These come in clutches of 10 to 20, which become known as nests.
Each clutch may contain anywhere between 100 to 400 eggs.
When the females return to the nest after laying them, males will eat any unfertilized eggs so there aren’t too many male offspring later on.
Once she lays her eggs, she’ll typically stick close to shore.
If the nest gets washed up onto beach sand, then the mothers head down deeper water to keep track of the nest location.
Females who leave the nest earlier won’t get food since the eggs haven’t hatched yet.
But when the eggs finally break open, the young emerge into what scientists call “miniature tanks,” which act like mini ponds full of yolk sac fluid.
This nourishes the tiny reptiles during their first weeks before moving on to larger bodies of saltwater.
While the exact time it takes for sea turtles to grow depends on the size of the animal, adult females generally reach sexual maturity within three months.
Males take longer to mature because they need to look strong enough to defend themselves against other males.
A healthy sea turtle might live up to 70 years but could die due to accidents or infections.
Do sea turtles ever find their parents?
Though these events are rare.
Adult sea turtles often use visual cues such as color patterns and shape to locate each other.
For example, loggerhead turtles rely heavily on landmarks, including specific types of coral growths and the direction sun-rays fall on those reefs.
Young green sea turtles follow a similar behavior using light reflectors placed over shallow areas.
And juvenile olive ridley turtles navigate with magnetic fields created by iron minerals beneath the seafloor.
But humans tend to kill off adult sea turtles’ habitat, meaning they have less access to mates.
As a result, finding your mate doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll raise his or her kids.
In fact, the vast majority of newborn sea turtles end up alone without their mothers.
If a mother turtle dies or is eaten, usually the next oldest sibling will step up to care for the new litter.
However, this isn’t always possible — particularly when multiple siblings reproduce.
Researchers believe older siblings help younger ones learn survival skills needed to survive outside of the family group.
Additionally, having another parent nearby helps protect the young from predators.
So if a brother or sister doesn’t make good parenting material, perhaps he or she has potential to be a surrogate father figure.
For certain species of sea turtles, especially juveniles, staying with mommy is vital for success.
Baby sea turtles ride on mother’s back?
When young sea turtles are still inside their shells, they float motionless above the top layer of seawater until they’ve grown large enough to shed their shells.
Then, they start crawling onto beaches and spending hours building protective domes over their heads with bits of dried kelp and grass.
Baby turtles move slowly under their own power via small movements made by muscles located at the base of their tails. Their hind limbs extend behind them instead of forward.
After reaching adulthood, turtles begin making decisions foraging for food.
Although sea turtles can walk, they don’t go far distances.
Instead, they crawl slowly using their front claws to dig burrows and scrape algae off rocks.
One notable exception is leatherback sea turtles, which travel thousands of miles throughout the year looking for jellyfish and squid.
Because they spend so much time underwater, it’s no surprise that baby sea turtles rely on their moms for safety.
During slow movement periods, the youngsters cling tightly to mother’s underside.
She uses both arms to paddle herself forward while keeping her belly low to the ground.
Together, they create a sort of boat by holding their breath, allowing for greater maneuverability.
This method works best if the mother spends time resting in calm waters and avoids big swells.
Mother turtles prefer quieter environments so that they can hear approaching threats better.
Some researchers think this strategy evolved to reduce competition among males.
It’s not uncommon for young sea turtles to lose their grip and end up being carried along by the current.
That said, baby sea turtles are less likely to drown than bigger fish.
However, if the mother turtle suddenly loses control, the child could slip off her back.
To prevent this from happening, the adults use a special flap of skin called a nuchal ligament to pin their children down.
Although this sounds like a great plan, it may cause problems if the mother decides to dive deep for extended periods of time.
Scientists speculate that diving causes nitrogen narcosis, which makes the turtles feel disoriented.
Unfortunately, their brain chemistry limits how deeply they can descend per day.
A common misconception says that baby turtles must wait for their parents to return before leaving the nest.
Turtles actually set out on their journeys independently.
This leads me to my next point
Do sea turtles stay together?
It certainly happens!
Even though these occurrences are infrequent, it’s important to recognize that mating pairs exist.
Male turtles will court females by chasing them and trying to grab hold of anything resembling a tail fin.
If successful, they’ll mount their partners and engage in copulation.
Sometimes, the pair will remain connected even after finishing the deed.
Male turtles who win the affection of a female partner are called “suiters” whereas the opposite sex is referred to as “spinners.”
Suiters are responsible for caring for the offspring and defending the territory while spinners focus on reproduction.
Both groups show physical differences, so members of either gender should avoid interbreeding.
In addition to pairing up, sea turtles form teams.
Like football squads, team formation offers protection.
Teammates share responsibilities and work together to ward off enemies.
Teams consist of unrelated individuals who coordinate activities for mutual benefit.
Research shows that when turtles join forces, they increase chances of survival.
Some species of sea turtles migrate hundreds of miles annually, crossing rivers, hills and forests.
With the added stress of traveling, teamwork protects the vulnerable young from starvation and injury.
Scientists observed wild olive ridleys heading southward from Alaska to Mexico.
At night, the turtles slept in loose clusters, protecting each other from cold temperatures.
During daylight, the entire flock waded ashore to feed.
While eating, the team leaders led the way followed by the others.
Finally, everyone returned to rest.
Researchers say that this kind of migration requires complex communication systems.
Since team leaders lead the pack, they must communicate effectively with subordinates.
Because turtles cannot vocalize, they send messages by changing body posture.
Whether it’s calling out to friends or telling followers to catch up, communicating in silence is essential for survival.
Without sound signals, our planet wouldn’t feature nearly as many mammals, birds and insects.
We’d miss out on the experience of hearing wolves bark and coyotes howl.
Similarly, we depend upon turtles to carry on crucial conversations, whether in the air or below the seas.